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Waitlisted: Keep Calm and March On

Congratulations, seniors! You are well on your way to National Decision Day. It has been a very busy year, and you have demonstrated truly Herculean strength in balancing your life of standardized tests, athletic events, activities, jobs, family, friends, and, of course, your last year of high school. With a keen focus, kinetic flexibility, and social dexterity, you have demonstrated that you are college-ready.

Choosing to attend one particular school may be an obvious choice for some students. For you, the results are in, and you have reconciled the pros and cons of those institutions that are eager to have you on campus, while also settling with the others. Moving forward is the name of the game for you. Remember to stay balanced; enthusiasm endures when backed up with a good plan. Did you take time to review your priorities – degree of rigor in the academic program, size, and location? Do you see enough opportunities outside the classroom? Does this feel like the right place for you to live, study, and grow for four years? Done and done. You are on your way.

The reality for many other students, however, is more complicated. Considering financial aid packages or merit scholarships takes time, and time is money in this case. Weighing the factor of distance to travel from home and family might also play a role in your transition. Thinking carefully about the various aspects of life is a constructive strategy and will most likely yield a very successful outcome. This scenario also applies to those who have been placed on a waitlist.

If you have been waitlisted, stay calm and continue to engage your strengths, especially focus, flexibility, and positive action. Stay committed to the process and keep your final decision in motion. Receiving a WL decision is unsettling, but it isn’t a denial, and there are ways to push ahead.

 For starters, formulate a plan 

Decide whether or not you want to remain on the wait list. If you decide to persist, send an email to the admissions office, thank them for their consideration, and tell them that you are absolutely sure you are interested in attending.

 Moving forward

The next step is twofold:  revisit your priorities  and review your current school options to determine your first choice from your admits, and at the same time,  research your chances  of being removed from the waitlist and given admittance. If possible, check the school stats to determine how many students were on the waitlist last year and how many were eventually offered a spot. Check to see if the school ranks students for the WL process and where you stand if they do rank. Be aware of the time factor – you have a number of weeks to wait because the lists won’t move until accepted students notify colleges of their decisions. Check the details: for example, make sure there aren’t any conditions such as housing limitations that affect WL decisions.

 Be proactive 

Engage your high school counselor for support; in many cases, your school counselor may call the college admissions representative with updated information. Keep your grades strong, because your second-semester senior transcript may be evaluated in the decision. Check to see if the admission office is offering an interview and, if so, make sure to prep with a practice interview beforehand. Consider asking a mentor, teacher, or alum to write a letter on your behalf. You do not want to send information weekly, but it is important to update your application with any achievements or awards you have received as a senior. This is a very important part of your WL strategy. Be thoughtful in highlighting your strengths and organized in the submission of the updated information.

 Be patient — and celebrate!

Keep in mind that schools may take all summer – until as late as August 1 – to make their final decisions. In the meantime, continue to enjoy the anticipation of a great achievement – your high school graduation. This is the time to engage your best decision-making skills. So if your number does comes up and you are offered a spot from the waitlist, you can confidently notify the school of YOUR decision! If you need help with a specific action plan to respond to a school’s invitation to its waitlist, contact us. We can help.

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